Lot 320. A famille-verte 'Lady of the Red Whisk' weiqi box, Qing dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Diameter 4 3/4 in., 12.1 cm. Estimate 8,000 - 10,000 USD. Lot sold 27,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby's.
of slightly compressed globular form, richly enameled around the exterior with a continuous narrative scene depicting Li Shimen, a contender to the throne, in red playing against a Daoist master, with Liu Wenjing observing the game from above, Qui Ran Ke, identifiable by the long beard and Li Jing entering the room, all set within an elegant pavilion, the reverse with a cluster of wutong trees, with a pierced ruyi-head wood cover (2), coll. no. 1577.
Provenance: Christie's New York, 29th March 2006, lot 488.
Literature: Jeffrey P. Stamen, Cynthia Volk with Yibin Ni, A Culture Revealed, Kangxi-Era Chinese Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection, Bruges, 2017, cat. no. 41.
: "A single play that claims victory" a maxim referring to disputed assertions to power being settled by a game of weiqi
rather than on a battlefield, is aptly illustrated on the present box. The story, which takes place at the end of the Sui dynasty (581-618 AD) revolves around a beautiful courtesan Zhang Chuchen, known as Hong Fu Nü (Lady with the Red Whisk), who escapes from a powerful warlord, Yang Su, by eloping with the play's young hero, Li Jing. In their travels the couple encounter Qiu Ran Ke and Li Shimen, two contenders vying to establish a new dynasty. The present lot depicts the moment that determines which of the two rivals is the most deserving. Li Shimen proves his worthiness, establishes a new dynasty and becomes the second Tang emperor, Taizong. The saga of Hong Fu Nü and Li Shimen's skill at weiqi
was recorded as early as the late Tang dynasty in The Tale of the Curly-Bearded Guest
by Du Guanting (850-933) and enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the late Ming dynasty with The Story of Hongfu
by Zhang Fengyi (1527-1613).
Sotheby's. Kangxi: The Jie Rui Tang Collection, Part II, New York, 19 march 2019